Whether you're a brand new startup just beginning to get your feet wet in the business world, or an established company with years of experience behind you, good phone etiquette can be one of the most important skills to have in order to connect with your customers.
The way your or your employee speaks to customers on the phone can either make or break your business, so check out this week's tip on five ways to excel in proper phone protocol.
Great phone conversations are all about the words you choose and the tone of voice in which you present those words, so what better way to start a conversation off right than with a friendly and informative greeting. Here's a great formula for the perfect phone greeting: "Good morning/afternoon/evening, this is "company name," I'm "your name," how may I help you today?" A good greeting starts the conversation off right, and lets your customer know you're there to serve their needs.
No one likes to speak to a mumbler on the phone. Constantly asking "What was that? Can you repeat that please, but slower?" is an instant turnoff for any customer seeking fast and easy help for a problem they have. Try to enunciate your words, and speak slow enough for anyone to understand, but not too slow, or else you'll end up sounding like Droopy the Dog.
Attentiveness to your customers' needs is a must in a situation where their voice is the only thing you have to pay attention to. In our current world -- with smartphones, emails, and Facebook taking up all of our free time -- it's important to put down the distractions and pay close attention to the most important element of your business: the customer. The customer can tell when you're not paying attention to them.
Let's face it, your customers are going to ask questions, and sometimes, they're going to be hard questions. That's why they called you in the first place. So the best strategy is to try to answer whatever problems they may have with a sincere attitude. And even if you can't immediately answer their inquiry, let them know what you are going to try to meet whatever needs they have, or at least find someone who can help them.
No, I'm not talking about opera here. I mean, end the conversation the same way you began it: with a friendly goodbye and a thank you. Customers will love to hear you say, "Thanks so much for calling us. It was a pleasure serving you. Have a good day!" instead of "Okay, bye."
Remember, these are the last words the customer will hear, so make them count. It's all about a positive attitude.
Contributor Caleb Hennington is a 23-year-old writer, who manages the Atwill Media and FGmarket blogs. He graduated from Arkansas State University in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.
When not writing, Caleb enjoys camping, running, collecting comic books, and binge-watching shows on Netflix.